Back in action
Rich Harden isn’t the only one making a return. I’ve been on vacation for the past week, a time span which has seemingly felt like several weeks thanks to a multitude of signings while I was gone. I step away from the world of Twitter and blogging for a handful of days, and the A’s proceed to bring in Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, Brandon McCarthy, Philip Humber and Harden. And while I know many of you were hoping I’d stay away until an Adrian Beltre signing got done, I have to say that one’s looking unlikely. Impossible? Not necessarily. I’m not ruling him out until he signs elsewhere, but at this point it appears the A’s have focused their attention elsewhere – hence the ultra-busy week I managed to miss out on.
There’s no doubt Beltre would complete the 2011 A’s package, so to say, but even if Santa ultimately drops him somewhere other than Oakland for Christmas, it’s important to note that this A’s team has improved this winter. They’ve been active from the start, and not all of their division rivals (Texas? Los Angeles?) can say the same. Matsui may be past his prime, but he still poses as a threat and commands the respect of opposing pitchers — something no member of the 2010 A’s team could really do. He’s an on-base machine and has proven himself countless times (several times against the A’s) in clutch situations. Willingham, meanwhile, adds the perfect amount of pop to a much better outfield than the one (well, there were multiple) the A’s threw out last season. He may not have a perfect health record, but who does in Oakland? The A’s may now have the best outfield bench in the league, and Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson offer the club options from both sides of the plate. Any team can have depth, but this one’s got above-average depth.
McCarthy and Harden likely don’t have you jumping for joy, especially given their injury history, but they give the club options — both in the rotation and in the bullpen. It should make for an interesting Spring Training and yet another intriguing fifth starter competition.
Despite last week’s madness, I doubt the A’s are done from adding and subtracting from their roster, even though the addition of Harden puts them at the 40-man mark.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’m still open to your thoughts on the newest green and gold members…